Hon Chairperson, Cabinet Ministers, distinguished members of this House, honourable premiers, MECs, executive mayors, mayors and councillors, traditional leaders present, chairpersons of entities, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, we are honoured to present to this august House the integrated Budget Vote for the Departments of Co- operative Governance and Traditional Affairs for the financial year 2011- 12.
As we meet today, it is with deep sadness that we are meeting under the shadow of the passing away of one of our towering giants in the liberation movement and the country. May the soul of Ma Sisulu find eternal peace. May the values she dedicated her life to be the beacon that shows direction to all leadership in all spheres of government and other sectors of society across the nation.
Chairperson, we are also meeting here today with the memory of the recent local government elections still fresh in our minds. New leadership is assuming office in municipal councils in cities and towns across the country. The renewed focus on accelerated service delivery should be a call to immediate action to all of us in national, provincial and local government.
The priorities of the Departments of Co-operative Governance and of Traditional Affairs for the 2011-12 financial year are streamlined to achieve the mandate just received from the electorate during the local government elections. The two departments have managed to align their programmes with a new vision and extended mandate of the Ministry of Co- operative Governance and Traditional Affairs and are ready to support local government with increased vigour.
Government remains committed to building on the progress that we have made in realising our vision of a better life for all. A number of flagship projects and critical interventions have been identified to give effect to the Ministry's mandate.
After the successful roll-out of the Clean Cities and Towns programme in three municipalities in the Eastern Cape earlier this year, this programme will be further rolled out to other cities and towns. The objective is to promote environmental health and programmes to change waste into wealth, particularly the recycling of waste and refuse-removal initiatives. These will include the installation of refuse bins in our communities.
The Operation Clean Audit 2014 campaign will be further intensified to promote unqualified audits by 2014. The improvement of results in 2009-10 compared with 2008-09 was encouraging, but still more needs to be done. The department will continue strengthening its relationship with the Auditor- General and continue collaborating with provinces with regard to the support and monitoring of municipalities to improve on their audit outcomes.
During 2011-12, the focus of the Business Adopt-a-Municipality initiative will be more on facilitating further engagement with the business sector and state-owned entities to support municipalities with institutional and service delivery challenges. Infrastructure backlogs and service delivery challenges in the country call for more creative solutions and stronger partnerships with the private and other sectors of our society to find lasting solutions.
An inspectorate to fight fraud and corruption in municipalities has been established. The inspectorate will collaborate with and complement the ongoing work done by the Department of Public Service and Administration, the Presidency and other stakeholders. In order for the inspectorate to be successful in its work, co-ordination with provincial anticorruption units and forums is crucial. The support and co-operation of elected and appointed officials in municipalities will also be key to combating corruption in the sphere of local government.
Work on a policy paper on co-operative governance will continue during this financial year. The aim is to develop a governance model that assists in the conduct of co-operative governance and bringing government closer to its people. This work will run in parallel with an updated policy paper on developmental local government. The policy paper on local government aims to assess progress made thus far in democratising our society through the achievement of a responsive, accountable, effective and efficient local government system within the context of a developmental state.
A differentiated approach to managing service delivery through interventions in municipal financing, planning and support underlies several of the sub-output areas. In this regard, a policy framework to bring intergovernmental coherence to the approach is being developed. This will include the concept of segmentation of municipalities, a revised integrated development plan framework to bring critical focus to the priority service delivery areas, a simplified revenue plan for poorer performing or more vulnerable entities, and further studies on the governance options for viable and nonviable municipalities.
The emphasis during the 2011-12 financial year will be on strengthening support to municipalities to ensure access to quality basic services. The department will also work together with municipalities that are underspending on infrastructure, to turn the situation around. Although service delivery challenges exist, I am proud to announce that in the past financial year, the department achieved its targets of increasing access to basic services and, in particular, of rolling out water and sanitation to more poor households.
We are also in the process of developing a technical capacity-building and skills development programme, in conjunction with tertiary and further education and training institutions, towards building the capacity of poor, weak and rural municipalities in the areas of engineering and artisans. This programme is also designed to address skills challenges within the sector generally.
With regard to the Siyenza Manje programme, in an attempt to ensure better co-ordination of technical support programmes provided to municipalities as per the department's strategy, government took a decision to integrate Siyenza Manje with the new technical programme of our department. We will redesign the programme to ensure that these engineers also mentor professionals deployed in municipalities.
Within the context of the New Growth Path, the department will in this financial year remodel the framework and approach to local government economic development also to place the private sector at the core. The main aim is to promote and support private-sector-driven catalytic business ventures and programmes, which can support job creation on a larger scale. We also recognise that small, medium and micro enterprises, ie the SMME sector, emerging farmers and co-operatives have a critical role to play in job creation, and that they need to be mobilised. Our view is that this sector should benefit directly from the value chain and other beneficiation downstream.
Amongst its objectives, the 2011 amending Bill of the Local Government: Municipal Systems Act focuses on strengthening the Minister's powers to regulate human resources matters in local government. The purpose is to professionalise municipal administration and set uniform norms and standards regarding municipal administration. As the first steps of the recruitment and retention strategy for specific occupations and professions in local government, three draft frameworks have been developed. These are, one, a co-ordination framework for the deployment of professionals and scarce skills in local government; two, a capacity-building plan for local government; and, three, job classification for local government.
The Local Government: Municipal Property Rates Amendment Bill of 2011 will provide for a more equitable and transparent system of rating different property categories with strengthened regulatory provisions that protect against excessive rating in the interests of a stable macro economy, and that protect the vulnerable through fairer treatment of those who cannot afford to pay rates.
The Bill on monitoring, support and intervention makes provision for the supervision of provinces and municipalities, including both monitoring of and intervention in a municipality when executive obligations are not fulfilled, and for the provision of targeted national and provincial support.
Work on the National Traditional Affairs Bill has commenced with work to consolidate the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act of 2003 and the National House of Traditional Leaders Act of 2009 into a single piece of legislation. The National Traditional Affairs Bill also provides for the amendment of certain provisions of the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers Act and section 81 of the Local Government: Municipal Structures Act in order to provide for the remuneration of Khoisan leaders and to enhance the participation of traditional leaders in municipal councils, respectively. The strategic role of the Department of Traditional Affairs is to assist the institution of traditional leadership to transform itself into being a strategic partner with government in the department.
The department has committed itself to contributing towards the achievement of Outcome 9 in a number of ways: firstly, through a consultative process with traditional leaders and the national, provincial and local houses of traditional leaders, the department has sought to facilitate communication leading to the release of land to municipalities for housing, burial and other developmental purposes.
Secondly, the department supports the delivery agreement of Outcome 9 by strengthening collaboration between councils and traditional leaders at the local level for development and service delivery purposes.
The department has also co-ordinated a project on the assessment of the state of governance within the area of traditional affairs. To date, six provincial assessments have been conducted. The process is currently under way to analyse data from provinces and develop a province-specific report, and one composite national report. The relations between the traditional councils and municipalities need to be improved. Both municipalities and traditional councils need to respect their respective statuses and roles. They have to be better informed about the policy and legislation that defines their roles and relationships. They also need to see the potential of mutually beneficial relationships. If municipalities and traditional councils develop effective relationships, service delivery and development can be significantly advanced in rural areas where the biggest challenges are.
Within the system of co-operative governance, each sphere of government needs to work with the other to achieve the developmental outcomes required to ensure a better life for all the people. We also acknowledge the important role of the legislature in keeping the executive to account. In this regard, we acknowledge the important contribution made by initiatives such as the Parliamentary Ad Hoc Committee on Service Delivery.
We also challenge members of the National Council of Provinces on this occasion to ensure that there is vigilance in oversight and that the unique mandate of the House to allow the provinces and local government to participate in policy-making is further enhanced. Let us all make our contribution to ensure that local government is, indeed, everybody's business. Ngiyabonga. [Thank you.] [Applause.]